00483 - John Harrison Surratt, Jr.; Lincoln Conspirator, in Papal Zouave Uniform [LC-DIG-cwpbh-00483]
John Surratt, Jr. was the son of Mary Surratt who was convicted and hanged for her role in the Lincoln assassination. Only 17 at the start of the war he was enrolled in college, but when his father died in 1862 John Jr. was appointed post master to fill the vacancy left by his father.
Surratt became a Confederate spy and courier and befriended Dr. Mudd who introduced him to John Wilkes Booth. When Booth announced his plot to kidnap Lincoln Surratt agreed to participate, but when those plans fell through Surratt did not participate in the assassination plot. Surratt was in Elmira, New York when Lincoln was killed and immediately fled to Canada.
While in Canada his mother was tried, convicted and hanged for her part in the conspiracy. John Surratt managed to leave Canada and arrive in Europe. While in Europe he travelled to Rome and under the alias “John Watson” obtained a job as one of the Pontifical Zouaves. By November of 1866 he was recognized and arrested.
He escaped and managed to make his way to Egypt. His time in Egypt did not last long and by November 23rd he was again arrested and returned to the U.S. The last of the conspirators to come to trial he had the advantage of time. Tried in early 1867, much of the statute of limitations for the charges had expired. Also the Supreme Court had ruled that civilians could not be tried by a military court as the others had. With only the assassination charges remaining the jury was unable to come to a conclusion that he was involved. A mistrial was declared and Surratt was released on $25,000 bail.
By 1872 Surratt was hired by the Baltimore Steam Packet Company eventually rising to the position of treasurer. Retiring in 1914 he died two years later at the age of 72.